Editor's Note: We are running this story again as part of our look back to the top social media stories of 2011 on Ragan.com. If these sites are no longer new to you, please suggest a new one that may not be on your peers' radar.
As more businesses turn to social media, communicators need to find monitoring tools to track and measure social media visibility and trends. Quite a few of these tools are available for free. Here is a roundup of my top favorite free social media monitoring websites.
1. Google Alerts
Google Alerts are e-mailed (or you can subscribe to the RSS feed) alerts of Google results.
Step 1: Type in the search term.
Step 2: Pick which kind of search type you want: News, blogs, Web, video, groups, or comprehensive (which includes all of the above search platforms).
Step 3: Pick how often you want the updates (As it happens, once daily, or once a week)
Step 4: Pick the e-mail length (up to 20 results or up to 50 results).
Step 5: Pick whether to deliver it to your e-mail inbox or as a feed.
Step 6: Hit subscribe.
Technorati is the largest blog monitoring service. Once you register your blog on Technorati, it tracks any blogs that reference your posts. To sign up for alerts, just search for your blog, then subscribe to the RSS feed.
Addictomatic allows you to create a personalized tracking page and pulls content from all over the Internet including, but not limited to Google, Yahoo, Technorati, YouTube, Truveo, Flickr, Blinkx, Ice Rocket, Digg, Topix, Newsvine and Tweetscan. Addictomatic is incredibly easy to use:
Step 1: Enter a keyword to track.
Step 2: Modify the boxes—add or subtract places you want content pulled from.
Step 3: Bookmark it and check back.
While I hate to mention anything with such a terrible name, Twazzup is a useful tool.
Enter a keyword and Twazzup creates a dashboard tracking that keyword on Twitter. It breaks down and categorizes by link popularity, contributors, news, tag clouds and users, along with and including photos. It also shows who said what, how many times something was said, and how influential the people saying it are.
5. Social Mention
Social Mention allows you to choose which platform you want to search a keyword across. You can choose among blogs, microblogs, images, events, news, videos, audio and more. You can choose a category individually or search across all of them.
Social Mention includes a vast amount of statistics about the search in addition to actual search results. These statistics include the sentiment (positive, negative or neutral), top keywords, top users, Postrank rankings, and sources.
Workstreamer is a relatively new service. It allows you to register with them, then track specific companies. You pick the company you want to track, then Workstreamer culls information from the internet. Add your company and you can check Workstreamer throughout the day, and look at all the news or divide it up by platform.
Workstreamer allows you the option of connecting with LinkedIn and SalesForce. As a bonus, Workstreamer sends you a daily morning e-mail with the most popular company information from the day before.
Hootsuite is a social media monitoring app that works with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Myspace and WordPress. It allows you to easily track all of your accounts, including @mentions on Twitter.
In addition, you can track keywords on Twitter. You can create a tab and add columns tracking keywords such as your name, company name, and blog name to see what people are saying.
Klout measures influence on topics from across different social media platforms. It allows you to track the impact of your links, recommendations, and options across a variety of social media platforms.
It collects data about the content you create, how people interact with that content, and the size and composition of your network. It then collects the data and breaks it down in an easy-to-analyze way.
8. Web2express Monitoring
Web2express describes what it does best: “Web2express Digest uses open semantic and NLP tools to analyze millions of Twitter conversations and blogs. It auto-discovers trending topics from fresh Web content and enables you to view new Web conversations around topics, enabling efficient monitoring of products, brands, companies, or competitors in real time.”
While Web2express doesn’t have the prettiest interface, but it’s simple to use. Sign up, set up what keywords you want to track and see results immediately.
With BoardTracker, you can set up keywords to track, choose your preferences, and have the results e-mailed to you. It allows you to run searches on topics/keywords that are being discussed in forums or discussion boards.
The great thing about BoardTracker is that it can tell you who is contributing to which topics and ranks them in order of frequency.
Monitter is a real time, live Twitter monitor that allows you to enter up to three keywords and monitor (or “monitter”) what is being said.
What social media monitoring sites and tools did I miss?
Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuel.